Pat Campbell’s Deal With God

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The ultra-kitsch religious death disc from the country music DJ.

It’s 1969: the Manson Family are creepy-crawling their way into infamy, the My Lai massacre has shocked the world and Altamont is about to drive a knife into the heart of the love and peace generation. And in Ireland, ex-crooner and Radio Luxembourg country and western DJ Pat Campbell is making a deal with God.

Campbell had been part of a singing group in the 1950s before becoming a disc jockey, and was inspired by the music he played – at once unpretentious and cliched, rough-hewn and schmaltzy – to have another stab at recording fame in 1969, when he released The Deal.

Campbell doesn’t sing, but rather narrates a story about being given a terrible choice by doctors as his wife gives birth to their only son (or possibly daughter, though that possibility seems to amuse him hugely) – things have gone terribly wrong, and only one can survive the birth. He prays to God and asks Him to allow both to live, taking him instead, and God agrees. As Campbell’s narrator drops down dead, the last thing he hears is that both mother and daughter are miraculously fine. Well done, God – leaving a woman without a husband and a child without a father just to get your pound of flesh. Maybe Pat should’ve tried to get a deal with Satan instead.

Even by the standards of this sort of thing, The Deal is rather extraordinary. It’s hard not to imagine that anyone could listen to this with a straight face, but amazingly, it cracked the UK Top 40 in 1969.

 

Inspired by this success, Campbell went on to record a whole album of ludicrously overwrought God-bothering death ballads, called Just A Quiet Conversation. Among the many highlights is The Last Goodbye, where his dead wife returns after a car crash to carry on the household chores.

 

Sadly, the album did not match the success of The Deal. and we were denied more tales of death and misery from Campbell. He went back to DJing, spending much of the 1970s presenting the show Country Style.

DAVID FLINT

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